Why is GOP mega-donor Paul Singer backing Marco Rubio? Rubio’s backing him in the Senate.

Marco Rubio has been picking up steam in the donor primary of late, most notably with the recent news that GOP megadonor Paul Singer was backing his candidacy. In conservative circles, Singer is perhaps best known for his support of same-sex marriage. As he told the Washington Post in 2013, to the chagrin of Newsmax, “I believe marriage equality is critical to the future of individual liberty and the strength of the American family, and the Republican Party should stand for both.” Marco Rubio does not share this belief.

However, Singer is better known elsewhere for his hedge fund, Elliott Management, which makes a lot of money for Singer by buying public debt from struggling countries at discounted prices and suing for full repayment.

Why does this matter to the 2016 race? As the International Business Times explains:

Marco Rubio, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Marco Rubio, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee isn’t typically seen as one of Congress’ “money” panels — it does not oversee economic policy or regulations, so it is not considered a prime spot for lawmakers looking to leverage legislative initiatives for campaign cash. But Sen. Marco Rubio may be the exception: The Republican lawmaker has used his position on the committee to slam Argentina, and now landed a major presidential campaign donor who could make a fortune off that country, if Rubio’s criticism compels the South American nation to submit to its creditors’ demands…

…Bloomberg reports that Singer’s firm, Elliott Management — through a subsidiary called NML Capital — invested in the country’s bonds, and after the country defaulted on its debts in 2001, Singer’s firm was one of a few creditors to decline Argentina’s request to reduce its repayments by 65 percent. Instead, the firm went to court to try to get a full repayment of up to $1.6 billion, at times attempting to seize the country’s assets.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner called Singer a “financial terrorist” who is pushing her country to the brink of financial collapse. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has declared that the kind of legal strategy Singer is pursuing against Argentina means “money that is earmarked for poverty reduction and basic social services, such as health and education, may be diverted” to Wall Street firms. The U.N. says such a diversion would threaten to prevent “heavily indebted countries from using resources freed up by debt relief for their development and poverty reduction programs.”

Rubio has, at every opportunity, gone out of his way to pressure Argentina to pay up. According to the Times, he proposed an amendment that would have directed international financial institutions like the World Bank to deny development loans to the country until it made full repayment. He co-authored a letter to the Treasury Department opposing a restructuring of the country’s debt. He made debt repayment a central issue when questioning President Obama’s nominee for ambassador to Argentina during their confirmation hearing, saying that the country was “the most peculiar ally in the world, because it doesn’t pay its debts and doesn’t cooperate militarily.”

Rubio’s pressure on Argentina wasn’t even limited to the country’s debt. He also asked the State Department to sponsor an international investigation into the death of a prosecutor who had accused the government of covering up the details of a terrorist attack from over twenty years ago.

Rubio has also taken a similarly hard line on Puerto Rico’s debt, coming out against a proposal that would allow them to restructure their debt under Chapter 9 of the US Bankruptcy Code. As the Times closes, “In May, Rubio received a $2,700 donation from a top executive at Monarch Alternative Capital, a hedge fund that holds Puerto Rican bonds.”

But sure, tell me again that money isn’t a corrupting influence in American politics.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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